Saturday, July 21, 2012

Amos Read-through

I am currently reading through each of the Minor Prophets, one a day. I have read Hosea and Joel alreeady, so maybe I will post on them later, but today was Amos. So here are some introductory things about Amos, and a couple brief salient thoughts.

Amos was writing in the time of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Jerusalem (1:1); about 760 BC, but this remains up for debate. His primary audience is a wealthy Israel (wealth amassed upon the backs of the poor of Israel's own people, namely the people of God. The Torah needs renewed by a Messiah!) without any need for The Lord, though at the same time seeing this situation as a blessing from the Lord. The Assyrian empire was at weak point during this period of history, allowing both Israel and Judah stable governments and latitude it had not experienced in a while.

Amos is concerned to convey the theme of the universal justice of the Lord. Israel was tempted to believe that "the Day of the Lord" meant justice upon their enemies (catch the likely head nodding from 1:2-2:3, then... Oops! The focus changes, doesn't it?). The justice Amos pronounces from the mouth of the Lord is upon Israel as well. A ghastly picture of Israel carrying the tents and sacrifices of their idols being carried on the same shoulders that bore the weight (in worship!) of the tent and sacrifices of the Lord in the Exodus! Exile is threatened as Israel's punishment. Beyond Damascus (possibly why it is changed to Babylon in Acts 7 is to keep Judah and the tent of David in focus for its startling contrast in Acts 15). That would not make sense... Assyria is so weak. So what does Amaziah say? Stop prophesying, Amos! Interesting considering 2:12.

So, "the Day of the Lord" is not something unrepentant Israel should be so eager for.

Other things can be said, but what does this say to us, yes, Western, post-enlightenment, post Second Great Awakening, post-Christian-Christian, folks?
    1) tradition, knowledge, and doctrine devoid of love embodying itself in righteous and just care for others is not desired by the Lord.
    2) while wealth is not a bad thing, it does not imply blessing of the Lord, especially if made at other expense. It could lead to judgement.
    3)all this in view of The Messiah that was hoped for, the Greater David (9:11-15). Only under the Messiah prophesied at the end of Amos (why does this seem like such a puzzling five verses? It does not necessarily need to be a later redaction.) would Israel find one who is perfectly just, righteous, and loving, and give the hope to those under His authority to be the same way. A perfect Kingdom.

 "For the Lord God does nothing without reveling his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?". Amos 3:7-8

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